As the song goes, “We all need somebody to lean on”. This is especially true for people who are unable to care for themselves due to old age or a serious illness. Fortunately, caregivers can help support and assist seniors or loved ones so they can continue to live comfortably and with peace of mind.
However, as rewarding and fulfilling caregiving may be, it’s often taxing on a person’s health due to how demanding and exhausting it can be. Overworked carers tend to neglect their physical and emotional needs, which often leads to stress and burnout. Some develop chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, while others experience a rollercoaster of emotions and often end up with mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
But it’s never too late to put well-being first and save some time for self-care. By doing things that make you feel aligned with yourself, you can avoid getting to the point where there’s no turning back. The following are ways for caregivers to keep healthy mentally, physically, and emotionally, which also have a positive effect on how they relate to the people they’re caring for.
Make Time for Physical Exercise
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may sound unimaginable given the long hours of work that comes with caregiving. However, carers can incorporate small amounts of exercise throughout the day to prevent serious health conditions, boost energy, and get better sleep. It’s not always necessary to visit a gym. Simple tasks like taking a brisk walk around the block are perfect for keeping fit. Caregivers can also work out indoors by using an exercise mobile app, which might even encourage the person they’re taking care of to do some stretching themselves.
Maintain a Well-Balanced Diet
Just like exercise, a healthy diet helps to boost immunity, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and increase energy levels. Caregivers often suffer from poor nutrition because they turn to take out and processed foods to save time and energy preparing their meals. But healthy eating habits such as having a filling breakfast and nibbling on organic foods and vegetables throughout the day are some ways to keep a well-balanced diet. In addition, drinking plenty of water helps prevent dehydration and reduces further fatigue.
Join a Support Group
Providing ongoing care for someone is a demanding task that often isolates caregivers from the outside world. That’s why it’s a good idea for carers to join a support group where they can openly express themselves and interact with other people who are going through similar situations. Self-help groups like the Caregiver Action Network (CAN) promote positive mental health and guide caregivers on how to regain a sense of control over professional and personal issues.
Seek Professional Help
The stress of caring for someone with depression or a disability often leads to anxiety and panic attacks. Many carers either choose to deal with mental health issues on their own or disregard their emotional needs. However, caregivers shouldn’t feel ashamed to ask for help when they need it. If looking after someone becomes too much to handle, it’s better to seek help from professional counselors and experienced therapists.
Caregiving can take its toll on anyone. If stress is not dealt with correctly, it can lead to burnout and serious health conditions like chronic heart disease. Meditating is one way to combat anxiety, increase self-awareness, and reduce the physical effects of stress. It requires minimal effort and can be done at home, in the car, and even while sitting outside. Practicing mindfulness is as straightforward as following breathing exercises and visualization techniques that relax both the body and the mind. Caregivers can meditate by listening to calming music and downloading mindfulness apps.
Take Some Time Away From Caregiving
Carers tend to the needs of others for the majority of the day but forget to schedule time for themselves to unwind, relax, and refuel. Thankfully, medical alert systems can provide caregivers with greater peace of mind and allow them to take a much-needed break. The alert systems come with a dedicated panic button that immediately puts the patient in contact with medical responders. In addition, these devices feature GPS tracking that allows carers to keep tabs on the location of their loved one at all times.
Caregiving is a highly demanding job that can leave anyone feeling drained and unwell, so it’s important for caregivers to consider their own needs. Remember, self-care is not selfish; it's necessary to provide the best care possible.
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